India is a country which you need much more than a two-week holiday to explore properly. A year abroad might just be enough time to come to grips with the wonders of a country nearly half the size of the United States, a country of deserts, sea, and snow-topped mountains, and where more than twenty languages are spoken.
All regions of India offer to delight and challenge, and the country is a treat for the eyes. From sheer whirlwinds of color in the bright saris women wear to the beautiful temples adorned in marvelous flowers to the spice markets lining the streets, there is an abundance of sights to see.
But before your year-long Indian adventure, there are pieces of advice you should know. Here are five tips that you need to know to help you adjust and enjoy this magnificent country during your year abroad.
- Move Around Locally Like the Locals
There’s only one authentic way to get around locally in India, and that’s by auto rickshaw.
This three-wheeled traffic dodging wonder is the best way to get around the crowded streets of India’s cities and is not much more expensive than the chai you’ll get from a roadside tea stall. Without windows, auto rickshaws offer you the chance to experience the noise, smells, and bustle of Indian streets unmediated.
- Take Trains for Long Distances
When traveling cross country, why not use a sleeper train? Cross country sleepers barely cost more than a mango lassi (yum!) but be sure to educate yourself about the safest routes and ticket fares. It doesn’t cost much to upgrade your travels, with the third class offering the benefit of smaller dorms, while enough people in the carriage make it one of the safest option. If you upgrade to first class travel, you can often get an air-conditioned compartment!
Although a sleeper train will give you the best chance to relax and experience the breadth and range of India’s marvelous landscape, if you’re still uncertain about safety, or facilities, you can also consider hiring a car as it is also easy, economical, and gives you the freedom to roam!
- Get Comfortable Bargaining
Maybe it will be in a market in Rajasthan, where you find one of the region’s signature puppets just perfect for a young family member at home, or perhaps when walking through the streets of Jharkhand, you’ll see some local tribal jewelry typical that you just have to have. It’s here where you’ll need to know how to bargain.
Although it might be impolite to bargain for tea from a chaiwallah, at market stalls people do not expect you to pay more than half of the asking price. Bargaining is not only expected, but it is also encouraged and part of the culture, with many market vendors relishing in the sparring.
The keys to bargaining is to fake a little indifference toward the item you want, and don’t be shy! If you feel confident enough to ask for a lower price for an item while being cool enough to feign a little disinterest, you will get the best price.
- Register for an Indian Bank Account
Of course, to bargain in India you’re going to need Indian rupees! When spending a year in a foreign country, it only makes sense to set up a bank account so that everything is easier and cheaper. Further, this has the additional bonus of keeping your home bank account more secure while you travel.
While you’re abroad, you will run into moments where you need to transfer money from ahome bank account to your local, Indian bank account. To keep the fees low and do so securely, using a service like Pangea Money Transfer will allow you to move money from your home bank account to your local one seamlessly.
- Be Open to New Experiences
Having decided to spend a year abroad in India, you are probably someone who is already hungry for new experiences. But you can never be too open to possibilities. On first arriving in India you will probably experience culture shock, as their society is so different and new.But don’t let that stop you!
From the sweetness of a roadside mango lassi to the alluring spice and size of a Thali lunch, to experience this culture at its fullest, you have to remain open to newness, difference, and be patient.
Take every opportunity to engage in the extremely affordable travel India offers, and listen to the local’s tips…for instance, the Taj Mahal’s sibling site, Humayan’s Tomb, is equally beautiful and much less crowded. Talk to as many locals as you can, and you’re guaranteed to have a lifechanging year in India!
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